Let’s start by getting one thing straight: A mentor can’t actually get you a promotion. The hard part of impressing an employer and sealing the deal is all up to you, dear.
But a mentor can help you snag the job you’ve only been dreaming about, according to Fredda Hurwitz, chief strategy and marketing officer at RedPeg Marketing and a member of the Marketing Academy’s scholarship mentor board, by giving you inside information, helping you hone your negotiation skills, introducing you to the right people, and so much more. Here, according to Hurwitz, are five ways they can help.
1. They can role-play with you
We don’t mean that kind of role-play. A mentor can play employer to the mentee’s employee, which can “help build up the mentee’s confidence in his or her ability to state their case and recognize their value” before heading into a negotiation for a promotion, says Hurwitz. “The value of a practice scenario shouldn’t be underestimated — it instantly creates a safe space to prepare for some off-the-cuff questions that could otherwise catch them off guard.” If you’d like to practice negotiating, ask your mentor to throw questions your way such as, “How have you exceeded expectations with the company,” and “What are some wins you have had in the last six months?” Hurwitz suggests. “Specific questions can often be intimidating in this type of environment, so the act of constructing answers and practicing their delivery with a trusted mentor can help relieve some of the pressure, allowing the candidate to be themselves and shine,” Hurwitz explains.
2. You will learn from their past experience
Your mentor has been there and done that — and his or her experience can help you learn information only someone on the inside would know. “The mentor should be able to draw on their own experience to provide hints and tips about how to approach this sensitive area,” Hurwitz says. “Have they stood up to a nightmare manager? Was their worth questioned in a negotiation setting? How did they stand up for themselves? Sharing these personal anecdotes — and furthermore, how they handled them — can help mentees to get a better sense of the types of scenarios they might encounter as well as different avenues through which to approach them.”
3. They can introduce you to the right people
You’ve heard the saying that “It’s not what you know but who you know,” and when it’s time to snag a promotion, this can be especially true. “However, for those just getting their feet wet in an industry, a Rolodex of helpful contacts can take a while to build,” Hurwitz points out, and that’s where a mentor comes in. “A good mentor will open their network up to a mentee, allowing them to connect with other helpful individuals in the industry and ultimately build up their own little black book.”
4. They can help identify your strengths — and your weaknesses
You’re ready for a promotion, but do you possess all the skills necessary to be successful in the new gig? A mentor can help you figure that out. “If there are skills that need to be developed in order for a candidate to become eligible for a raise, a mentor should be seen as a critical resource to point out these areas as well as offer tangible tips to help a mentee sharpen their skills,” says Hurwitz. “Whether it’s a webinar, industry event, training session, or even just a one-on-one conversation, a mentor who has their mentee’s best interest at heart will take the steps necessary to help equip them with the competencies needed to go in with their heads held high.”
5. And they’ll keep it real with you
One way to ensure you get a promotion is to make sure you’re actually ready for it. If you’re not, you could be setting yourself up for failure. “A mentor should even coach the mentee when not to seek a promotion — the mentor may realize that the mentee isn’t quite ready,” Hurwitz says. “An insightful and caring mentor should be able to take that step back and show the mentee what may still be required as a proof point before broaching the subject and having to deal with a very unpleasant response.”